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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018

Lack of Munster players in Ireland squad not an issue, insists Kiss

Just five players from last year’s Heineken Cup semi-finalists feature in the 34-man Six Nations squad.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell chats to Les Kiss at a Munster training session in 2012.
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell chats to Les Kiss at a Munster training session in 2012.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

IRELAND ASSISTANT COACH Les Kiss has defended Joe Schmidt’s decision to include 18 Leinster players in his Six Nations squad while Pro12-leading Munster have just five.

The defence coach insists that clubs or provinces do not come into consideration when selection calls are being made. His views were backed up by scrum-half Conor Murray, who told that the squad is focused on the country-first mentality.

Kiss dismissed the notion that Schmidt, as a former coach with Leinster, is going with tried and trusted faces for his first Six Nations campaign. He said, “There’s a couple of injury profiles around like Donnacha Ryan is out at the moment, Simon Zebo is just back from injury. Certain things like that would affect the [squad] make-up but I wouldn’t be reading too much into that.

“Tommy Bowe is out and Stuart Olding is out at the moment. There are other players around that will come into the mix, as well, but we’re not driven by those things. We just want to get the right mix and the right combinations. We’re happy with where we are at the moment.”

Murray commented, “There is huge competition for places within our squad, at the moment. Even at training today, no-one was giving an inch and that’s the way you want it. There’s about three or four players vying for each position and each player believes they have a chance of it. That’s the way it should be. Everyone is going at it hammer and tong in training and competition is huge. I think it will only drive on the squad.” He added:

For Munster players to get in the squad, there’s a lot of players knocking on the door. That’s good for us as a province as well as [for] the national side. There’s still a few of us here, flying the flag.”

Murray has enjoyed the opportunity to train alongside Cardiff Blues’ forward Robin Copeland, who will join Munster in the summer. “I had a few chats with him in the last few days,” he said. “Just watching him for Cardiff this week, he won three man-of-the-match awards in the Heineken Cup group stages. That’s an unbelievable achievement.

“Up close, when you see him, he’s a real athlete; a real powerful player and a natural footballer. He’s a good signing for Munster and he’s making an impact up here already.”

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Patrick McCarry

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